Self-Identity In Toni Morrison's Song Of Solomon

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Toni Morrison’s novel Song of Solomon is an examination on the importance of self-identity in African-American society and the effects of a name. Names and labels are used to describe and symbolize people, places, and things, serving as a brief definition of the subject. Toni Morrison uses this definition in order to analyze the effects redefining or naming had on African Americans heritage and culture after their emancipation. Throughout the story, the central protagonist Macon Dead III or Milkman, searches his family’s history to reclaim his past and recreate himself. America’s history of slavery and it’s lasting effects have allowed African-American society and cultural identity to be dictated by the white majority. Although the horrors…show more content…
Hagar, Pilate, Macon Jr., and Guitar all vie for Milkman’s commitment pulling in him to achieve their goals for him. To Milkman, his life seems to lack an identity in which to base his life’s direction and purpose, “…trying to make up his mind whether to go forward or to turn back. The decision he made would be extremely important, but the way in which he made the decision would be careless, haphazard, and uninformed.” (Morrison, 69-70). Unwilling to commit himself to any one goal, Milkman rejects these options, choosing instead to continue his aimless drifting, cutting himself off from the people who care for him and the African-American community. Without familial ties and history, Milkman lacked the wisdom that comes with knowledge of the past, causing a disconnect between Milkman and his people. Milkman’s journey provides him with the answers to his identity problem allowing his family’s past to provide instruction, and protection, and a certain kind of wisdom necessary in finding his true self. Although Milkman must ultimately define himself, he is also defined by his relationships. He cannot learn these lessons in isolation but only within the context of the present community and relations of
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